Three years ago, we ended our home-schooling journey and sent our three older kids to private school. I will always remember their first day. The two middles — in third and fourth grade — came home bursting with excitement. They were bubbling over with reports about their teachers, the kids they met, lunch and recess. Our oldest son — the 6th grader — was a different story. He was mad.
“Are you seriously going to make me go back there again tomorrow?!”
For about two hours, we hashed it over. There were tears and loud voices. I questioned our choice and then sadly delivered the bad news.
“Not only are you going back tomorrow, but you are going back for the entire school year.”
Thankfully, we can all laugh at that story now. As he’s about to finish 8th grade, it’s hard to imagine how much he hated that first day. We had some bumps those first few months, but since then, he has loved his junior high experience. While the middle school years seem to be a challenge for many kids, he has thrived. He has an amazing group of friends. He loves going to school and doesn’t want to miss a day, even if he’s sick. He has great teachers, and he has become self confident.
Now we are closing in on the end of junior high. Each month seems to bring one more “last” of this experience. Last basketball game. Last talent show. Last sports banquet. Soon we will have his last spring play. The 8th grade trip. Last day. Graduation.
Normally, when spring arrives we start anxiously anticipating the end of the school year and the freedom of summer. This year, we seem to be pulling back on the reins, begging time to slow down. Soon, his 8th grade class will go in different directions as the students head off to different high schools. We’re not scared anymore about high school. In fact, we are excited about new opportunities. But the ending of his experience at a small, private Christian school is going to be hard.
It seems to always be on my mind lately.
The ending isn’t only for him. It’s going to be a big change for me, too. I spend a lot of time at their school. I’ve grown to love the teachers and the parents of their friends. I love the safe environment and the special activities.
Our second son chose to go to public school for 6th grade, and I often compare their experience. He has made some good friends this year. We sometimes lives vicariously through him because he knows the names of all of the neighborhood kids. He rides the bus with them and hangs out with them at school. When he makes the transition to high school, it won’t be such a jolt. He will move right along with his group of friends.
I question which is better. Was it worth if for our older son to have had such an amazing experience only to have to live through the pain of seeing it come to an end? Our second son’s experience hasn’t been sky high. But it hasn’t been negative either.
Lately I’ve realized that I can’t compare. Our older son is more of an introvert. He’s a deep thinker, and a loyal friend. Being part of a class of 25 has been great for him. Our middle son thrives on new relationships. He loves knowing all the kids on the block and being able to walk home from school. He likes going to a bigger school and the opportunities that brings. I look at each of them and I know they have both taken a path that is working well for them.
Neither choice is perfect. Neither is all bad.
But the “lasts” aren’t easy.